Photo by Bradley D. Clissold
There's a forthcoming Soviet serf rock renaissance in the capital city.
Local indie serf rock trio The Kremlin have been relatively tranquil since earning themselves the 2007 Music NL award for Aleternative Group of the Year, emerging only to stage a gig here and there.
They've quietly been making progress on "The Red Menace," the band's first professional full-length album which is set to be released Aug. 9.
"This album's going to be a lot more true to what we do," explains Kremlin bassist "ChÉ" while sipping a Corona on a George Street patio with band leader "Comrade Lenin".
"We did a lot of studio time on this," he adds, explaining the band was able to take its time because they had the luxury of recording in the KDPC's (Kremlin Dance Party of Newfoundland) studio, or "Igor's den" as ChÉ calls it, referring to the studio in band drummer "Igor's" home.
"It's taken way too long but we're happy with it," Lenin adds. "A lot more thought went into the presentation. We try and think of it as more of a concept album that filters from points of intensity."
The Music NL award last year recognized the band's debut CD "Proletariat Serf Revolution," a 10-track album they released in 2006 that was intended to fill a void in the local indie music scene.
"We believe that, as a sort of communist or socialist perspective would theoretically, art has to be antagonistic," says Lenin. "It has to try to be radical and somehow different. Only when it is will it ever counter any sense of mainstreamist conformity. That's the real politics of it."
If you haven't already guessed, the band derives its shtick from Marxist-Leninist ideology. They design concert posters that feature Soviet propaganda images and stage intensely dramatic live shows which often feature orchestrated theatrics including the use of gas masks as costumes and a go-go dancer.
"To be completely honest it was an absurd idea, and it was supposed to be," Lenin says earnestly, referring to the band's beginnings in 2005. "We saw it as being something that would be completely different and absurd, and we never expected it to amount to much."
"And people love dancing here," adds ChÉ, "which is not the same in every other town. I grew up in the punk and metal scene here … and it was all about fast music that we could move to. The Kremlin was the same thing, but new and different at the same time."
With better resources at their disposal, due in part to a grant, the band has carefully focused on producing music it feels confident bringing to the masses.
"The sound is bigger overall. We put a lot more time into the recording and the production," Lenin explains. The finished product, he hopes, will help them market their music better off the Island.
"By next summer we hope to have a little more infrastructure in terms of being able to get away. We love being here - it's been really great for us and we have no complaints - but we also feel like it's time to try and move beyond the island and bring the revolution to the mainland."
For three and a half years, The Kremlin has been packing local clubs by creating highly danceable music and providing an entertaining display of 'rock 'n' politics' stage antics.
"The Red Menace," says Lenin, reflects what the band is all about.
"We try to never stand still, and I think that's one thing that does set us apart."